Each night I stand backstage pacing back and forth, running a small ritual that has become important to me as a preparation for a coming night of emotional journeying. The role of Eric Weiss in Brooklyn Boy is a challenging one, one that I relate to all too well. And then, inevitably, my friend Carla comes to me and says the word, “Places.”
“Places” is the call to be ready. It means that an important moment has arrived. Time to make an entrance in full view of an audience, an audience with expectation, hope, demands, and a low tolerance for boredom and poor work. Whatever I do, at the end of the night, they’ll applaud, but whether my work impacts or moves their collective heart is another question. And that depends largely on my own preparation, skill, willingness, and presence. Admittedly, some nights are better than others, and there are moments in a “Places” call where I wish I was anywhere but where I am. Maybe its been a bad day, or someone’s critique has gotten into my head, or the general angst that’s been in my DNA since day one is just reminding me that though faith in God is mostly a fine idea, sometimes it seems more ludicrous than sane.
The bad days don’t come nearly as often as they used to, and the other night, after Carla gave her smiling “Places” call, I thought how wonderful it would be if someone would show up just before all the big moments in our lives, the life-changing ones, and say, “Places.” In effect, they’d be saying, “This is one of the moments when you really need to show up. All your days up to now have been rehearsals, and in the next five minutes, you are going into the bright lights. Get your cues, keep the energy, stay alive, be present, and leave it all out there. Oh, and have fun.”
My daughter Amy just got a places call that was both metaphor and fact, and she nailed it.
After four years of study at the University of Cincinnati College of Conservatory of Music Depart of Drama (that’s a mouthful), she graduates in June with a BFA in Acting. Monday and Tuesday, her “Places” call was for a two and half minute scene in New York City, a small portion of an actor’s showcase featuring some 44 actors in 90 minutes. Industry types come to these things–agents, managers, producers, etc. They’re looking for new talent, and it goes by in a whiz. And while no one moment is make or break (we talked about that a lot–there are multiple ways into getting work in the long haul), this felt like a big one. You have to perform under pressure, and I was a bit nervous as I watched her first come on.
No need for nervousness, this girl knows what she’s doing. In fact, hats off to the training at CCM-Drama. Their entire class did strong work down the line…real, vital, intimate, and risky. Kudos to them all. And though I don’t have many details yet, sounds like the industry response was strong, and they all have meetings lined up with various agencies interested in their work.
As a father, I could not be more proud of her work. But I am far more proud of her response to the “Places” call that is coming into her life. She is ready, and bold, and brave. You can imagine my emotion as I type the words. It’s a father’s love, a father who was there for her first “Places” call, when she first showed up in that spectacular entrance called birth. The lights are never brighter than when we make entrances into relationship, into the heartbreak of the lives around us, into the spaces where God waits to watch and participate, which I suppose is always and everywhere. When are we not at “Places”?
My time watching my kids at “Places” makes me think of our Father, and the way He must watch us, nervous, pulling for us, coming alongside however we will let Him, wanting nothing for us but the kind of performance that makes for full, generous, and vital worlds.
Way to go, girl…